Rosemary is perhaps the easiest
and most forgiving of all herb plants. If left un-pruned it can
become a menace in your herb garden by over-crowding other smaller plants. If you want to start
your own rosemary plant you can take a cutting from any plant at virtually anytime and start your
own. Check out our article How to Take Rosemary Cuttings for complete instructions. The beauty of
rosemary is that it can take severe cutting and recover next spring like nothing ever happened.
The plant also responds well to shaping for use in edible landscapes. The basic idea of pruning
a rosemary bush back is to take the plant back to about half of the space you are trying to fill.
At the end of the season you will likely have a plant that has out grown your desired space. You
could take a plant all the way back to the main stem and likely have a lot of growth to prune the
next year if you had to make drastic changes to your plants size and shape. The plant featured in
this article fills the corner spot of a perennial kitchen herb garden and is used primarily as an
endless supply of fresh rosemary for cooking. This plant was started from a cutting and has been
trained for five years in its spot.
After several years of pruning the plant will only require a pair of hand pruners to accomplish
the task. If the plant has been left unattended for several seasons then the plant may require
loppers or something larger to get it cut back.
The best time of year for pruning
your rosemary back is during the winter time. Most rosemary is
evergreen and never goes completely dormant. You could cut back this plant any time of year if you
needed with little effect. Winter time is the best time to prune if you can so that the plant can
still develop flowers in the early spring for color in your herb garden.
This top down view of freshly pruned
rosemary shows the thickness of some of the trunks growing up.
This will result in a bushy filled out plant with nice shoots for use in the kitchen. Most culinary
rosemary comes from new shoots that have grown up in the latest season. A heavy pruning will result
in long sturdy shoots that could be used as skewers for fancy kabobs or dried easily for use as gifts
or winter supplies of dried rosemary. Once a plant is well established it will provide you with an
endless supply of fresh rosemary and you will find yourself with little need for dried rosemary.
Fresh herbs can always be substituted for dried herbs in any recipe and most times will taste far
Here you can see the finished plant
after its pruning. Notice the considerable difference from the
original plant. This particular plant will develop over the rest of winter and early spring to become
probably three times as large. The idea is to get the plant into a miniature form of what you would
like for finished product come summertime. Worst case scenario will have you doing a little light
pruning in the early summer if the plant becomes out of its designated space. This will not harm
So after pruning you will be left
with a bunch of rosemary branches that could be tossed into your
compost heap. In the spirit of New World Seed Company, the better use of these left over scraps
would be to propagate some new plants from these. A complete guide to starting your own rosemary
plants from cuttings can be found HERE. The new plants could be used as gifts to other fledging
gardeners that you know, used as a replacement plant in case your rosemary plant suddenly dies
or simply added to other areas in your garden or yard where you need a hardy perennial filler.
The cuttings could also be dried and stored in mason jars for use in the winter when it’s too
cold to go outside or as gifts to others who can’t or don’t grow their own rosemary. Keep in
mind that even a city dweller can grow rosemary in their window sill in small pots.
We hoped you enjoyed this article
from New World Seed Company.
As always we would love to get some feedback from you, our readers.
Any questions or comments can be sent to us at the address on our Contact Us page.
Stay tuned for more articles as the weather begins to break and I can get outside more often.